« April 2011 | Main | June 2011 »

May 2011

Creative Amnesty: The Aftermath

Picture 4
So, as expected, Wednesday was an interesting day.

Creative Review allowed me to take control of their Twitter account and I used the opportunity to launch the first ever #CreativeAmnesty – a chance for creative professionals to share their worst work in an atmosphere of mutual sympathy and tolerance.

It was good fun, with entertaining and admirably honest contributions coming in from various corners of the globe. I believe I also managed to destroy the careers of various competitors along the way.

I’ve put together a rough timeline of how the day developed, using Storify.

So stop reading this and go and read that instead.

Creative Amnesty


Today should be an interesting day. Creative Review have invited me to guest edit their Twitter account.

It's not often you get the chance to tweet to 372,000 people, so I thought I should use it to get an interesting conversation going.

It struck me that most creatives are comfortable talking about their best work, but conversation about the worst stuff is understandably taboo. It's a shame because everyone has a story about a nightmare project and they're usually amusing, not to mention instructive.

So, today I'm co-opting the Creative Review Twitter account to declare an official Creative Amnesty.

For one day only, share your most shameful creative projects with impunity. No sniping, no shame. Just sympathy and mutual support.

I'm inviting people to post their contributions on Twitter using the #creativeamnesty hashtag. Pithy project descriptions are fine. Extra points for images and links. You can also blog about it in more detail elsewhere and tweet a link.

I'm already gathering some of the best stories at checkthis.com/creativeamnesty Please go and have a read. Confessions so far include:

—Me talking about some horoscopes I once wrote
—Sue Asbury recalling some ethnically sensitive balloons
—Stuart Watson of Venture Three discussing some awkward student plagiarism
—Richard Weston (Mr Acejet170) confessing to a series of career low-points
—And a charming tale involving a John Travolta cut-out from awards magnet Chris Doyle

The site will be updated as the day goes on, with contributions from the great and good of the creative world. Please join in.

(For the uninitiated, checkthis is a web publishing tool, usefully described as 'between nothing and a blog'. You can sign in using this link: http://checkthis.com/invite/coupon/creativeamnesty It's a handy way to post up #creativeamnesty entries and link to them on Twitter.)

All I Really Want To Do


Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday is a happy occasion when you think of all the great songwriters who never made it this far – Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Robert Johnson...

The most melancholy thought about all of them is all the unwritten songs that are forever lost to us. With Dylan, we’ve been able to enjoy those songs as he grows old (and he writes brilliantly and movingly about the physical and mental deterioration of ageing). The last few years have been one of the most productive periods of his life, with a series of albums of extraordinary range and reference, plus Theme Time Radio Hour and the first instalment of Chronicles. For me, he’s the great artist of the last 100 years, working at a deeper level than anyone in any art form.

Anyway, I wrote this strange thing a while back, when I was pondering whether it was possible to write poetic ‘cover versions’ of popular songs – taking the basic idea and structure but changing the words. It’s an update of his 1964 song All I Really Want To Do, reinterpreted for the social media age. Not sure what it proves, but here it is anyway.


All I Really Want To Do
after Bob Dylan

I ain’t looking to log you in,
click or drag or drop you in,
aggregate you, navigate you,
populate you or update you.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.

I don't want to subscribe to you
or to join a twibe with you,
analyse you, categorise you,
magnify or monetise you.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.

I ain't looking for your avatar
or to join your webinar,
write a message on your wall,
reply to you or reply to all.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.

I don't want to chat with you,
link to or trackback to you,
view your source or track your host,
comment on your latest post.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.

No, and I don't want to spread your meme,
browse your Flickr photostream,
swipe you, Skype you, text you, type you,
skip you, rip you or unzip you.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.

And I ain't looking for you to follow me,
forward me or favourite me,
or cc me or bc me
or retweet me or delete me.
   All I really want to do
   is baby be friends with you.



A brief post to let you know I’ll be guest editing the Creative Review Twitter account next Wednesday (25 May).

In terms of relative follower numbers, this is like stepping out of a rubber dinghy and taking the controls of the Queen Mary 2.

It's part of a week (well, four days) of guest editors, with Anna and Britt of Visual Editions editing on Monday, designer and blogger Daniel Gray editing on Tuesday, then a mystery editor on Thursday, chosen via a competition taking place on Twitter right now.

Please tune in if you're that way inclined.

Ken Clarke TOV Guidelines (leaked excerpt)


NB: This extract from Ken Clarke's revised Tone of Voice Guidelines found its way into my inbox. I pass it on without comment.


Until now, the Kenneth Clarke verbal brand (‘Ken’) has been defined under the strategic banner of Blokeish CharmTM.

This positioning has proved very effective over the years. However, it has recently been noted that this Tone of Voice does not sufficiently ‘flex’ to cover all circumstances, particularly when discussing issues such as serious crimes and prison sentencing.

As a result, we have developed a new positioning that more fully reflects Ken as he is today and aspires to be in future.

Please note this is an evolution rather than a revolution and should be thought of as a subtle shift in the continuing journey of the Ken brand.

We define the new positioning as:

Apologetic Tactful HumilityTM

The new Ken, henceforth referred to more formally as Kenneth Clarke, is characterised by hyper-sensitivity and tact, to an extent that could be construed as 'embarrassing' and 'laughable'.

We have mapped out the new positioning using this illustrative Language LandscapeTM:

Please note this new brand positioning is to be brought forward immediately – and certainly in time for Question Time tonight.